Tango is about feeling and sensitivity, otherwise you are just doing gymnastics. You can do all the steps but it has to have the feeling and sensitivity of authentic tango.” — Carlos Gavito
What makes for a memorable tango dance, something you take home with you and warms your heart for a day or two after, maybe even gives you some insights into the subtleties of relationships?
If you were watching tango from the sidelines, what conclusion would you come to? The fancy footwork, the pivots and flits and spins?
That is what we see. And if we took a lesson that is what we would be taught. The outer dance.
But what makes for an enriching, engaging, memorable dance for the dancers is not obvious. In fact it is not seen at all. It is felt.
It is the emotional engagement, the connection, the synchronized motion, the comforting awareness that you are being supported and cared for. The inner dance.
The Inner and Outer Dance
The inner and outer dance may certainly complement and feed off each other but they are not the same thing and they require different skills.
You can have a very technically sophisticated outer dance and feel nothing. And you can have a very simple outer dance and feel like you have floated into another dimension.
Ideally, what I am seeking when I dance is that place of intersection where outer expression and inner awareness enhance each other.
When or how does this interplay happen?
The Inner Dance cannot be taught. It must be caught. It is birthed in the womb of trust and vulnerability. It is nurtured and strengthened with gentleness and reverence.
The outer dance of course provides the structure, the language of communication, the rules of engagement.
The inner dance is accentuated by attention to details, the nuances, the finesse that is lightly layered on top of the gross movements.
A deft response of musicality, the light touch of cheek to cheek, synchronized timing, adjusting the embrace. All this is felt but too slight or subtle to be observed by bystanders: The attentiveness that is given to each move, the extra time and space that is given or taken.
The gift of Tango
This entire exchange can be distilled down to the gift of attentiveness. It is the deeply humanizing experience of being attuned to and in harmony with another. I dance so that I know that I am not alone. This is the mystery and magic of tango.